Too busy to get fit? Those days of long, drawn out (and boring) cardio workouts are over. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or burst training can give you many more benefits in a fraction of the time.
So What is HIIT?
HIIT is a workout routine that combines periods of less-intense activity with intense bursts of activity lasting 30-60 seconds. This switch-up makes your body work harder and burn more calories faster than at a constant pace.
Here’s an example of a quick HIIT work out:
• Complete a warm up at a slow pace to stimulate blood flow to muscles. Follow this low-intensity with 30 seconds to 1 minute of intense “bursting.” Follow this burst with 1 to 2 minutes of brisk walking or light jogging to bring your heart rate back down again. This 1 to 2 minute alternation can be repeated for 15 or more minutes.
Shoot for HIIT workouts two to three times a week, not on consecutive days, as your muscles need an opportunity for repair, rest and growth.
Is HIIT for Everyone?
Because HIIT requires bursts of 100% effort, HIIT may not be the optimal exercise for everyone. If done too often, or in combination with other high-intensity exercises, HIIT may lead to over-training or injury. Low to moderate physical activity is something the majority of us can do, however, some may want to take their fitness to another level and challenge themselves with HIIT. Those who are eager to incorporate HIIT should be sure to properly fuel and recover, and ensure they are not over-training, putting their bodies in danger of injury.
Always be sure to listen to your body’s signals, as high intensity interval training can be grueling and should push you to your limits, but not past them.
Here are a few benefits of HIIT training:
• Efficiency. YES, you can benefit your body in 15-20 minutes rather than 45 to an hour! Research shows 15-20 minutes of HIIT can help you better achieve your weight and fitness goals than 1 hour on the treadmill or elliptical.
• Increased fat burned. The body better oxidizes fats during a HIIT routine. Hyper-exertion stimulates hyper-repair; which means you can burn more fat and calories in the whole day after a HIIT session than you could after a steady-paced cardio session.
• HIIT for a healthier heart! During full-capacity bursts, your heart is pumping at full capacity, forcing your cardiovascular system to its limits. Having a healthy heart is crucial to combat the stress you may be feeling as a busy parent.
• No exercise equipment necessary. This means you can bring HIIT with you anywhere you go! Exercises like high knees, fast feet, plyometrics and jumping lunges all raise heart rate and simultaneously give you that hard-working muscle burn.
• You will burn more fat, NOT lose muscle. HIIT allows those on a quest to lose excess pounds to preserve muscle mass while burning fat.
• Increased metabolism. HIIT stimulates human growth hormone, which is responsible for increased calories burned and a slower aging process!
• Stay challenged, not bored! HIIT requires 100% effort and engagement. The workout is short, but you will be working the whole time.
• Enhanced endurance follows an improved ability to intake and transport oxygen. Having more oxygen flowing keeps your energy levels up, boosting your physical and mental ability.
As long as you’re saving some time with your HIIT workouts, here are a few other great time-saving, multi-tasking exercises to build and maintain muscle:
1. For your upper body: push-ups. Whether you’re pushing away from the wall, your desk, doing the modified version using your knees or the advanced version with your hands and feet on the floor, push-ups are a great way to increase muscle in your upper body. Whichever muscles you’re using as you go down, you’re using other muscles as you go up so it’s a great multi-tasking exercise using whichever form you’re able to do.
2. For your lower body: squats. Squats are so great because they’re also one of those multi-tasking exercises that build many muscles at once – just make sure your form is correct to prevent injury. A great way to start is by keeping your feet hip distance apart, hold onto the wall or a chair, then imagine you’re trying to sit on a chair that’s way behind you as you squat down and back. The idea is to lower your body while keeping the knees over your heels vs. over the toes (which is where you can hurt your knees if you’re not careful).
3. For your core: planks. Again, this is one of those multi-taskers because you’re working the entire mid-section at once. Almost like an advanced push-up position, (except your forearms are on the floor vs. your hands as in a traditional push-up), make sure your back and abs are tight and hold for a count of 10, building from there. Make sure you breathe.
Of course, check with your doctor first before beginning any exercise program.
To your health!
Photo from here, with thanks.